Through the 3D Lenses of Manuel Ruberto

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There is always something to learn from a 3D artist.

Manuel Ruberto completed his MA in sculpture in Milan, only to then realise he didn't exactly want to spend the rest of his life making tombstones. The glorious days of marble Michelangelos may be over, but 3D is here to stay and Manuel has jumped on the wagon effortlessly.

For this Member Spotlight, we are learning about the passion of a creative 3D artist for all things technology, his wishes for an augmented society and rightful complaints about the craziness of rents in London.


How did you get into the industry?

After I got my MA in Sculpture at the Fine Arts Academy of Brera (Milano), I knew that my destiny wasn’t to be in the business of creating sculptures for cemeteries; there are only so many jobs you can do as a sculptor. I didn’t want to pursue a career in the world of art exhibitions either; I had enough of that.

I learned many skills during my studies, including photography, anatomy, life drawing and history of art and cinema. How could I put all my knowledge to use and how could I make my sculptures become alive?

Well, CGI was the answer.


Where are you based now and who do you work for?

I Live, Love and Labour in London… As a freelancer I do usually try to select both companies and projects to work for but it’s not always possible.

When I can choose I usually do it following two main logics: what kind of project it is and what’s the state of the production. The former is your attack and the latter is your defence. Some projects are simply more interesting and fun than others and some productions are just in better shape than others. How to tell the difference? If they ask you to deliver The Lord of The Rings in four days… that’s a bad indicator and you should watch your steps because someone else’s mistakes will soon become yours. There are plenty of amazing productions out there though.


If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I would probably try to get a job close to the wilderness, perhaps forest ranger?

Can you explain your creative process?

Often when you get a job there isn’t much room for creativity and in those situations I just use my experience\wisdom to find the best possible path to achieve what needs to be achieved. In all the other cases I always start by listening to the briefing very carefully and let the director drive me into his\her world, trying to visualize it in my head and in that moment the creative process is already on its way, it’s like reading a book; as everyone will envision a slightly different picture, I get my own. Then I try to synchronize my picture with the director’s dreams by sharing ideas until I feel confident enough to start. It works. 

That’s just the beginning though: as I prepare the assets there are tons of decisions I get to make, hundreds of paths to choose from, and I just pick the ideas that excite me the most. Sometimes they are not appreciated as much as I hoped for and I have to go back and rethink them but that’s a good thing, because often you will come out with something better than your first attempt.


How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?

Technically we have always been affected by our technology: a scalpel was high-tech in due times. Tools have been evolving since the dawn of time… just very slowly. The big difference is that today our tools evolve every year.

CTRL + Z remains one of the greatest inventions of all times if you ask me, it’s definitely underrated.

We can speculate that there has been an uncountable number of masterpieces that never came to be because ancient people didn’t have it as easy as we do. They didn’t get to click on “File>New File” to just start over at virtually zero cost.

I did work with marble during my studies, believe me, it’s not a very efficient pipeline at all. :)


What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

Watching other artists’ beautiful works stimulates me massively. Seeing beauty makes me want to create beauty.

What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?

Needless to say that you have to be passionate and a hard worker, we all know that. I will go with something a little more pragmatic instead.

You are gonna need a portfolio, employers won’t just take your word. A good attitude and enthusiasm are definitely well received and often essential but it’s not enough, you’ll need to show how your enthusiasm translates into interesting works.

If you don’t have any professional work in your bag because you haven’t begun your career yet, start some serious personal project, set your own bar a little higher than you would and make sure that your work embeds all that you can do.

Also, If you ask me, don’t try to start your career as a freelancer, you can do that later on in your life.

Freelancing is tough, when you are a freelancer people will expect from you to be worth the buck they are paying. No room for errors. You will have to go there and nail it every time; they are not hiring you because they wanna see you grow, after all.

Try to get employed in a company instead, where they will have plans already, even before hiring you, to cultivate you and turn you into an asset. All the projects you will be given there are going to be part of your first professional portfolio to be proudly displayed to your next potential employer.


What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?

My hope is that augmented reality, virtual reality and stereoscopy will finally become the standard.

Augmented reality is gonna take us into a brave new world; we will be walking on streets populated with graphics, contents, animations. I bet many shops won’t even need a sign anymore, they will have 24/7 animations outside their store streaming from the cloud. Graphics will be all over the place and that’s all gonna be work for us folks!

Virtual reality may become essential to our workflow, hopefully, especially to 3D artists but to 2D graphic designers as well.

2D may not be a thing anymore in the future; as stereoscopy will replace our default mode to view contents, even 2D graphic designers will actually have to take the third dimension into account. That’s probably gonna take longer than I always thought though. Twenty years ago I was betting that it was just behind the corner… I was shamefully wrong.


If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

I would potentiate remote working up to the point at which you could live on the top of a mountain and still be perfectly capable to do your job with zero limitations. I am not saying this because of the situation we have been into lately: working remotely as the standard procedure would mean that you could potentially be working for anyone around the globe.

I am obviously completely ignoring the economic repercussions that this could have; will companies only hire people from countries with cheap labor? Probably, but I’ll count on the experts to solve that.

Besides... Not everybody likes living in huge cities. Commuting can be frustrating and is definitely a dispersive practice - a mere waste of time actually. To some, having too many people around is also not a blessing and rents in London are insane, let alone buying a house...

A system in which remote working is the standard would leave us much more room for choices in regards to the quality of our personal life.


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